Pratoni del Vivaro Friday Dressage

Pratoni del Vivaro Friday Dressage

With two superb team scores from Monica Spencer and Artist (Max) and Clarke Johnstone and Menlo Park (Jacko) in the club house there was plenty to play for for Tim and Jonelle today.  Monica threw down the gauntlet as first to go for the team  with a 25.6 that left her in third spot at the end of day one and earned her her first trip to a Press Conference at the World Champs.  Clarke and Jacko put in a personal best of 27.4 to add another cracking score to the team rankings and it was a great Thursday for all of us to leave NZ in 2nd place at the end of the day.

McClaren (Mac) is a proper grown up now and is at his second World Championship.  Last time, in Tryon, he was one of the rookies of the team but he is now the finished article but the frustrating thing is that apart from Pau last year where he scored a 24.4 he hasn’t really impressed the judges so much.  Jonelle has trained and trained him with the help of Charlotte Dujardin and most recently, Spencer Wilton, and despite a couple of Mac ‘moments’ when he has voiced his opinions quite loudly, he has looked pretty spectacular in his prep out here.

The forecast was rain but the sun was blazing as Jonelle walked quietly up the ramp to the main arena.  She gave Mac a few moments to absorb the atmosphere, popped into canter and away they went.

As they cantered down the centre line to a foot square halt Mac turned from an angry little man into a happy little fella.  He showed off his paces, he powered his way across the diagonal in his medium and extended trots and his flying changes were truly off the ground.  He mostly kept his ears forward and he showed off the whole of his little body to the crowds on the side.  He scored 26.1 to go into 4th spot at the time and revelled in the applause he garnered from the appreciative crowd.  It was pretty cool to say the least and to have three team scores in under 28 with Tim and Falco still to come was a great feeling!

As the last rotation of team number fours started their tests in the afternoon it was Tim and Falco’s turn to shine.   And as the sun continued to make the horses sparkle and the buzz of Michi Jung’s 18.8 test bumped up the atmosphere a touch Falco and Tim looked every inch the professionals in the warm up.  Jonelle was on the ground (as Tim had been for Mac) and as the first in after the last break there was anticipation in the air as Tim went up the ramp and into the arena.

And then they nailed it.  Falco executed fault free trot work with some spectacular extensions that truly showed his balance and rhythm.  He was uphill, forward and soft in his body and the walk was relaxed, the halt perfectly square with just a touch of resistance in the rein back being the only tiny blip. He nailed all of his changes and the canter work emphasised the fact that this really was his best test to date and that he deserved his 4th spot on the team without doubt.  His score of  26.2 was awesome but the judge at B had him some 8% below C which was disappointing to say the least.

They sit just 0.1 behind Jonelle and Mac ( Tim claims this is tactical in terms of a happy wife) and in equal 14th but most importantly it makes the team all sub 28 which is simply brilliant!  The Brits sit in the lead on 69.2, Germany in second on 76.1, USA in third on 76.6 and Kiwis in 4th on 77.9. It really couldn’t be closer and with 16 teams on the board it is a fantastic start to the competition for NZ and one we have been dreaming of for a while.